Wind energy Goldwind to make mark in US with wind farm supply deal

Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co will sell power to Commonwealth Edison Co from its Illinois wind power project, the first large US wind farm using Chinese-made turbines.

The company, based in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, also bought out its development partner, Dublin-based Mainstream Renewable Power, and has full ownership of TianRun Shady Oaks LLC, which administers the Shady Oaks project, it said in a stock exchange filing.

"We intend to begin construction of the project in 2011," TimRosenzweig, chief executive of Goldwind USA Inc, said on Tuesday. "We have a number of pending customers and expect to have significant orders in 2011."

Goldwind expects the 106.5-megawatt project to cost between $150 million and $200 million. Given different weather conditions in the United States, Goldwind’s operational data from China needs to be confirmed in the world’s biggest economy, said Amy Grace, North American analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

"This will likely be the first significant deployment of Chinese turbines on US soil," Grace said. Goldwind wants to "show US developers and financiers that their turbines can operate under US conditions with similar performance data to their turbines operating in other part of the world".

Shady Oaks will sell power to Commonwealth Edison under a 20-year power-purchase agreement. The plant is expected to be completed in 2012 and will include 71 of Goldwind’s 1.5-megawatt wind turbines.

Shady Oaks will be the second US wind farm built using Goldwind’s turbines. The 4.5-megawatt Uilk Wind project in Minnesota went into operation in January, Goldwind said.

A general benchmark for certification is "around 100 turbine-operating years of solid performance data", Grace said.

Citing London-based wind power consultancy Garrad Hassan, "Certification is typically a minimum benchmark for bank financing."

The benchmark requires 100 turbines to rotate for one year, maintaining a minimum operation rate of 98 percent.

Mainstream will continue to help Goldwind build the project, it said in a statement. Shady Oaks will source more than 60 percent of its materials locally, Goldwind said.

"Our intent is to recreate the sourcing processes for the project similar to Minnesota and discussions are ongoing," Colin Mahoney, a spokesman for Goldwind USA said.

The Uilk project used about 63 percent of US-made content on a cost basis, Mahoney added.

"They should work to reach the same domestic content level here that they would if they were building in China," United Steelworkers Union spokesman Wayne Ranick said in an e-mail, referring to China’s supportive policies for clean energy. "We need to watch closely for that development."